What Good Are The First Few Songs Of A Worship Service?
A handful of bodies pepper the seats. The Service begins. You try to maintain energy and enthusiasm through your first song but it's tough. People are fluttering in. They seem distracted. Do they want to be there? Do you want to be there?
I heard of a Senior Pastor who told his Worship Leader that the first two songs of a church service are "throwaways". Throwaways! Sounds harsh but maybe you've felt the same way. I know I have.
But what if I told you these songs aren't throwaways? That they serve an important purpose? What if I told you it's possible to lead these songs with confidence and joy? Even while people are still finding their seat or still focusing their minds.
A Dinner Party
My wife and I like to have friends over for dinner. When they arrive we welcome them and take their coats. "How was your day? Thanks for bringing that dessert. Would you like something to drink?"
For the first 20 minutes or so we're getting settled. Then dinner's ready and we sit down, we pray, and we dig in. Not just into the food but into the meat of life. At a recent dinner, I learned what a friend's childhood was like, the beliefs she grew up under, and how she got saved.
Okay, now imagine this scene. Our friends come through the door. Wind-blown from the day. I tell them to hurry in and sit down. With coats on their backs and ice cream in their hands I ask, "so how did you get saved?"
Introductions come before intimacy.
Think of your first song or two as a time to gather. A time to welcome. A time to settle in. You'll get to the deeper stuff, but you've gotta take your coat off first.
Road Trip Songs
Did you there are gathering songs in the Bible?
It's hard to imagine but there was a time when God's people didn't meet together every week. Three times a year the Hebrew people would make their way to Jerusalem. And they would sing songs on their journey. These songs are found in Psalm 120-134. The Songs of Ascents. The original road trip playlist.
Lone worshippers would leave their homes and start singing. Their voices would grow as they joined other travelers on the road. Eventually, they would reach the temple where they'd connect with their countrymen, offer their scarifies, and confess their sins. It was about to get real.
But you have to start somewhere. And they started with these songs.
The Coattails Of Faith
Sometimes it's hard to tell what people are thinking. And sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's written all over their face. I've looked out at the beginning of a service to see people practically yelling at me, "I'm not into this! I'm distracted!"
This is when we pastor people. This is when we provide a time and place for them to encounter God and pray they take advantage of it.
My pastor has said that sometimes we have to ride the coattails of someone else's faith. We're just not there yet. But when we see someone filled with faith we find strength and ride in their wake until our faith comes alive.
When you begin a service with passion and conviction, sincerely singing of the power of God, His wondrous works, our champion Jesus. When you declare that you choose to rejoice and desire to encounter Him. Well, you may feel a little tug on the back of your shirt. That's someone in your congregation clinging to your faith.
Faith is contagious. Start spreading yours with the very first note.
No Time For Throwaways
Every moment we spend together as a church family is precious. We don't have time for throwaway songs. So whether you're giving voice to songs of gathering or sharing faith with those who lack, sing every word with passion and purpose. You may even start to love these first few songs.